Songwriting: Harmony

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Authored by Jimmy Kachulis

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Course Code: OSONG-316

Next Semester
Starts June 28

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition

$1,497

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,250

This course presents the "power progressions" behind countless hit songs, and dozens of ways to adapt these progressions into your own personal songwriting. Whether you are an experienced songwriter looking for new ideas or a beginning songwriter who can't read music, this course will lead you to a rich source of songwriting possibilities. You'll use techniques such as modulation and cadences to craft the essential dramatic architecture of your songs. By participating in a group of songwriters, you'll have the opportunity to share your work with others, get their feedback, and see different ways that these tools can be used, under the mentorship of a master songwriter.

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By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Generate a groove and chord colors
  • Identify five common key colors
  • Understand and build songs from power progressions
  • Use melody and harmony for color
  • Use cadences and connecting songs with cadences
  • Understand modulation in songs
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: Generating A Groove and Chord Colors

  • Parts of a Groove
  • Developing a Groove
  • Four Chord Colors and Lyric Stories
  • Changing Colors of Chords - Variations

Lesson 2: Colors of Keys and Songs From Progression

  • Five Common Keys Colors
  • Building Song By Repetition
  • Contrasting Sections

Lesson 3: Power Progressions

  • Major Key
  • Minor Key
  • Mixolydian Key
  • Dorian Key
  • Blues Key
  • Building Songs From Power Progressions

Lesson 4: Rhythm Variations of Power Progressions

  • Progression Length
  • Chord Rhythm
  • Chord Order

Lesson 5: Song Sections From Rhythm Variations

  • Contrasting Sections
  • Two Sections ­ Two Progressions
  • Three Sections ­ Two Progressions

Lesson 6: Pitch Variations of Power Progressions

  • Subtract Chords
  • Add Chords
  • Replace Chords
  • Add Pedal Parts

Lesson 7: Song Sections From Pitch Variations

  • Contrasting Two Sections
  • Contrasting Three Sections

Lesson 8: Melody and Harmony

  • Coloring a Word
  • Coloring a Phrase
  • Coloring a Lyric Section

Lesson 9: Ways of Coming Home

  • Full Cadences
  • Half Cadences
  • Deceptive Cadences
  • Plagal Cadences
  • Mixed Cadences

Lesson 10: Song Sections Using Cadences

  • Verse/Refrain
  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Bridge
  • Connecting Sections With Cadences

Lesson 11: Modulation

  • Parallel Key Modulation
  • Relative Modulation
  • Surprising Key Modulation

Lesson 12: Modulation In Songs

  • Modulation In A Section
  • Modulation Between Sections

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

  • Familiarity with popular music song form
  • Basic proficiency on a harmonic instrument
  • Ability to create a melody (optional)
  • Ability to create original lyrics (optional - will be provided, if needed)

Required Textbook(s)

Software Requirements

  • Word processing program that can open and save documents in Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity (PC) or GarageBand (Mac) .

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu for any questions.


General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

Jimmy Kachulis

Author & Instructor

Jimmy Kachulis teaches songwriting and lyric writing at Berklee, conducts clinics nationwide, and has helped thousands of songwriters develop and maximize their skills. Look through the bios of some of today's best songwriters, and his name comes up again and again; his students' works have earned Grammy nominations, and been recorded by a vast range of artists on major and independent labels. An accomplished composer, arranger and conductor, he has worked with great artists like George Coleman, Jon Hendricks, John Lewis and Martha Reeves, and his compositions have been featured on scores from The Sopranos to Touched By An Angel. Jimmy's songs and arrangements for "Island Breeze", by legendary guitarist, Eric Gale, have been re-released and distributed worldwide under the Warner Brothers label.


Sarah Brindell

Instructor

Sarah Brindell is a songwriter, arranger, producer, musician, and Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music. With touring credits around the world, she has shared the stage and recorded with many renowned artists including Norah Jones, Carole King, and Raul Midon. Her original songs can be heard on many television shows including MTV’s Made. She was a finalist in the Song of the Year contest as part of VH-1’s Save the Music Foundation, as well as the Billboard World Song Contest. A Summa Cum Laude graduate from Boston University, she holds a Master's degree in Music Education, and teaches courses in songwriting, harmony, ear training, arranging, and stage performance. She conducts clinics nationwide and internationally, and continually helps thousands of students to reach their full potential as professional musicians and songwriters.


Neil Diercks

Instructor

Neil Diercks is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, song coach, and musician. He served for many years in various capacities at Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in Nashville, beginning as an intern and eventually becoming Manager of A&R Activities. It was within this role that he worked with hit songwriters including Gary Burr, Steve Bogard, Stephony Smith, Jeff Stevens, and Victoria Shaw, who penned hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Ricky Martin, and Christina Aguilera.

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Neil is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied songwriting, voice, and music business, and went on to serve on the Board of Trustees for three years. He has lectured and led songwriting workshops internationally, and has won several awards for his teaching, including the UPCEA Excellence in Teaching award (2015); the Pearson Excellence In Online Teaching award (2015); The Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award for Berklee Online (2016). He currently collaborates with songwriters and artists in Los Angeles and around the globe. Read Less


Shane Adams

Instructor

Shane Adams is a twice GRAMMY nominated music educator, and award-winning producer, and songwriter. Shane is president of Artist Accelerator and is a founding instructor for Berklee Online, where he has taught lyric writing and songwriting since 2003.

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Shane is a featured songwriter and instructor for the Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where he received their TOP TEN HITMAKER award for 2014. He co-developed their groundbreaking “Words and Music” curriculum which has enabled thousands of elementary through high school students to learn to the craft of songwriting. Shane has served on the Hall of Fame’s museum expansion advisory board and has facilitated other music outreach programs such as “Poetry in Motion” co-sponsored by the Nashville Arts Commission and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

In 2013, Shane was named the Music Industry Professional of the Year by Chowan University, and in 2005 Shane earned the Tennessee-Songwriter-Association-International’s highest honor, the Hallman Award, for outstanding contributions to the songwriting community.

Shane is currently the featured composer for Fjor Films and has produced the music and scored several independent film projects, including Fortune Cookie (featured at both the Sundance and Hollywood Film Festivals).

Shane writes for iSing Magazine, and is an internationally recognized songwriting lecturer and music production panelist.

He is currently developing two songwriting apps for the iPad platform, and is in pre-production as c-host/co-producer for “Studio Soundtrack,” a songwriting radio program for National Public Radio. Read Less


Rodney Alejandro

Instructor

In his 30+ year career, Rodney has become recognized as a protean polymath within the entertainment industry. In his most recent rock ‘n’ roll chapter, he was a performing member of the international pop band the Script. As the keyboardist/music director, he was responsible for arranging and weaving the group's hit songs into an unforgettable concert experience. Before his tenure with the Script, Rodney built a career as a consummate professional behind the scenes. 

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Rodney’s work includes songwriting/producing chart-topping songs in the English, Latin, and Asian music markets. He has collaborated with artists such as Quincy Jones, Sting, the Temptations, and Ray Charles. Rodney has also performed with many artists from around the world including Mańa, Babyface, Sofia Carson, and Stevie Wonder among many others. His work has earned industry recognition with projects garnering Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations, winning Billboard Latin pop album of the year in 2004, and multiple gold and platinum-selling record awards. Rodney has also taken on television opportunities and was the main title composer/producer for the Golden Globe winner for best drama series The Shield, as well as the composer/music producer for the drama series Thief.

In 2006, he was honored by his alma mater Berklee College of Music as the Alumnus of the Year, and in 2011 received recognition as the Music Education Advocate of the Year from the Recording Academy Texas Chapter. Rodney is currently an associate professor at Berklee College of Music where he teaches in the Songwriting Department, sharing his knowledge and experience from his distinguished music career.

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Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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